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Chatham County, Georgia Commissioners to Delay Action on Proposed 500-room
Convention Hotel on Hutchinson Island

By G.G. Rigsby, Savannah Morning News, Ga.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Feb. 09, 2011--No action will be taken on a proposed 500-room convention hotel on Hutchinson Island at Friday's Chatham County commission meeting, County Manager Russ Abolt said.

The proposed hotel would be financed by $151 million in government-backed bonds, and commissioners last week received a 176-page packet detailing the proposal.

It calls for raising the 6-cents-per-dollar hotel-motel tax to 7 cents. Money from the increase would go into a reserve fund as one of many layers of protection meant to ensure that taxpayers would not be harmed if the deal were to go bad.

The hotel would be publicly owned and would have two goals: To meet current demand from customers who want to come to Savannah but need more rooms near the convention center and to create business.

An analysis says the hotel would generate 83,000 additional room nights in area hotels each year and create 1,200 jobs and 900 construction jobs.

The item will remain on the agenda, but "there won't be any action taken," Abolt said. "We're not ready to give them an action plan."

Assistant County Manager Pat Monahan said he was out of town last week and unable to review with the county attorney and convention center manager the procedure used to select the proposed project's developer.

"A key component of the board's decision would be to an assignment of this contract to Chatham County but only with the confidence that the trade center authority followed all requirements which Chatham County would need to follow under state law for competitive sealed proposals," Monahan said in a memo Tuesday.

The authority that runs the convention center is scheduled to discuss the proposed hotel at its meeting at 11 a.m. today, in the Jasper Board Room of the center.


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